Welcome Back To My Nightmare: Alice Cooper introduces Steve Hunter in Columbus.
It's a great time to be an Alice Cooper fan. Just last November, Alice wrapped up a 16-month world tour dubbed Theatre of Death, an over-the-top theatrical extravaganza propelled by his best band in years. In April, the original Alice Cooper Group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with a bombastic celebratory box set arriving in the summer. Next month will see the release of Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a conceptual sequel that reunites Alice with legendary producer Bob Ezrin and includes contributions from the ACG as well as veteran solo career collaborators. It would surely be permissible for the rock icon to take the summer off and relax.
But no. Not only has he been canvassing Europe and both North and South America since May, he is doing so under the banner of a new tour called No More Mr. Nice Guy. As the concert filler between Theatre of Death and the forthcoming Welcome 2 My Nightmare tour, it could easily have been a minimally produced affair in which Cooper & Co. make a few bucks off an assortment of greatest hits, and few would have complained. But Alice is firing on all cylinders right now, and his current show is no mere stopgap, as Wednesday's date at the LC Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio proved.
The mighty Fritts organ at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Columbus, Ohio.
It may seem odd to look forward to Good Friday with eager anticipation, yet I confess that this is precisely what I have done for the last several years, ever since my brother and I attended our first Office of Tenebrae at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Columbus. Intended as a somber reflection on Christ's passion, the service features choral and organ music accompanied by the gradual extinction of candlelight. Near the end, the last remaining candle is removed from the altar, leaving the cathedral in darkness. The congregation then joins in the strepitus, a "sustained noise with hand or book" that evokes the earthquake described in the gospels. Finally, the lone candle returns, its presence a symbol of hope in the Resurrection, and everyone files out of the cathedral in silence.
When I read about Tenebrae in the paper, I knew I had to go. It sounded like the most wondrous mix of majestic architecture, thundering pipe organ, and meditative theater. David was similarly intrigued, and as we settled into a pew among the capacity crowd that first night, I thumbed through the program and noted translations of the Latin verses that were to be sung by the Cathedral Schola. Though my pronunciation of Latin is shaky, I thought it would be interesting to at least try to follow along.
Well, at least they provided Ohio's schoolchildren with a great example of irony.
Fifteen months ago, a diverse group of protesters assembled along the north face of the Ohio Statehouse. We carried signs and made speeches voicing our displeasure over the governor's intention to cut state funding for public libraries by 30% in an attempt to formulate a balanced biennial budget. The proposed $227 million reduction came on the heels of a 20% funding cut with which libraries were already contending. With 70% of Ohio's public libraries operating solely on state funding, the overall 50% cut threatened to dramatically reduce library services.
Alas, our impassioned dissent had minimal budgetary impact, if indeed it made any difference at all. The General Assembly ultimately agreed on a net 30% decrease for the biennial budget, obviously an improvement over the original proposal. However, so draconian was the initially suggested cut that the whole ordeal had the tainted odor of insincere political maneuvering. Threaten the populace with an outrageous budget cut, let citizens cry about it on the steps of the Statehouse, and then appear to be responsibly responding to the will of the people by softening the reduction. Call me cynical, but it doesn't seem much different to me from the negotiating tactics of administrative management, labor unions, and car salesmen.